Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Strawberry Mojito Candy Corn

I love mojitos, strawberries, and candy, so I saw no reason not to combine them all in this happy little recipe.  The flavors are fresh and pleasing, the candy has a great mouth feel; it just leaves you with a smile. 
Candy corn has gotten a bad rap - for three reasons, I think.  First, you mostly only see it in Autumn.  That cuts its face time by 75%!  Second, when running against the other Halloween heavies (Reese's, Snickers, Kit Kat, etc), the poor little guys can hardly compete.  And third, I don't know how long these companies keep the bags of candies sitting around, but as often as not, the candy corn you get is on the stale side.  A travesty.
Making your own candy corn is great.  You can color and flavor it however you please.  You can choose the shape (it doesn't have to look like corn, you know).  You'll know it's fresh.  And, you can have it whenever the mood takes you.
I found a recipe for candy corn, credited to Field Guide to Candy, on Taste and Tell.  I had one big problem with it.  Candy making is a science, but the cooking time here was not.  The recipe said to bring the sugar mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 5 minutes.  I decided to go with it and followed these instructions exactly.  Of course, I ended up overheating the sugar.  Really, the sugar mixture needs to be cooked to soft ball stage (regardless of cook time which can be affected by the pot you use, your stove, etc).  You'll need a thermometer that goes that high (235°-240°).  My only other issue was with the powdered sugar.  It definitely needs to be sifted.  Otherwise, this is a nice recipe and makes a tasty candy.
Put down your prejudices, embrace this classic and delicious treat, and give candy corn its due!

Strawberry Mojito Candy Corn
Adapted from Taste and Tell

1/8 - 1/4 tsp strawberry flavoring
1/8 - 1/4 tsp lime extract or flavoring
1/8 - 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
Green and Pink food coloring
2 1/2 cups (10 oz) powdered sugar, measured then sifted
1/4 powdered milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup butter, cut into 1" pieces
1/4 tsp vanilla extract


1. Cut two rectangles of parchment paper. Oil a sharp knife. Make ready three medium glass or ceramic bowls. Set these things aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, powdered milk, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large heavy bottomed saucepan or stock pot, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and butter. Set over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly (a silicone spatula works well here).

4. Reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the mixture reaches soft ball stage (135° - 140°). Remove the pan from the heat.

5. Stir the vanilla into the sugar mixture. Stir the dry ingredients into the mixture (a wooden spoon works well here). Divide the mixture into three equal portions and place in the three prepared bowls.

6. In the first bowl, put 1/8 - 1/4 tsp of lime extract or flavoring (depending on how strong you want the flavor). In the second one, put a couple of drops of green food coloring along with 1/8 - 1/4 tsp of peppermint extract. In the third, put a couple of drops of pink food coloring along with 1/8 - 1/4 tsp of strawberry flavoring. Cover two of the bowls with plastic to help prevent the candy from overdrying.

7. Knead the contents of the first bowl until smooth. Divide into four equal portions. Roll each portion into a 1/2" diameter rope. Set the ropes on one of the prepared parchment papers, leaving a few inches of space between.
You can microwave the candy for a few seconds if it becomes too cool/hard.
Repeat with the other two bowls of candy. You will place, and gently press, the three different flavored ropes right next to each other as they are completed. If you'd like the candy to be flat (like for the traditional corn-shape), gently roll the joined ropes flat. You will end up with four tri-colored slabs of candy.

8. Use the prepared knife to cut the candy slabs into pieces. Any shape is fine. Triangles will give the traditional corn shape. Place the cut candies on the second piece of parchment paper.

9. Let the candy air dry for an hour (or longer, if needed). Place in a covered container for storage.

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